ALEXANDRIA, VA – Preeti Patel has often been called, “The biggest smile in Del Ray” and is the lady behind the counter at 7-Eleven, 2108 Mount Vernon Avenue, in Alexandria.
And this morning, her community smiled back, in a big way.
At 8 a.m. this morning leaders of the Del Ray Business Association surprised the popular and beloved 7-11 owner, Preeti Patel with its most soulful presentation, the Heart of Del Ray Award.
“Preeti Patel is a fixture in the community, known for her welcoming spirit and her support of local events and causes — including donating over 2,000 hot dogs for the Halloween Parade every year,” said Maureen Schweers.
“She knows all the families, supports all our events, supports the schools, and so much more,” read one nomination. “She is always pleasant, always working hard, and always so kind and welcoming to my kids,” read another.
Past Heart winners Serdar Basegmez (The Greener Cleaner), Jen Walker (McEnearney Associates), Laurent Janowsky (Del Ray Café), Bobi Bomar (Weichert Realtors) Bill Blackburn (Pork Barrel BBQ) and Jeff Wallingford (Taqueria Poblano) joined members of the DRBA Board on the sidewalk in front of the store. The group shared stories of the day they were surprised, and hugged and laughed while posing for photographers.
“Preeti also knows all the secrets–like who is drinking too many Red Bulls, and what the kids are all doing,” joked DRBA Board Member Gayle Reuter.
The annual award, given to the business that represents the heart and soul of Del Ray, is determined by a public vote of neighbors and customers. The other nominees this year were Rock of Ages Music, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap, Stomping Ground and Studio Body Logic.
The Del Ray Business Association represents the independently-owned restaurants, retailers, and businesses in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria; DRBA also hosts community events, including First Thursdays, Taste of Del Ray, The Del Ray Halloween Parade, The Alexandria Turkey Trot, and more.